An Introduction to the World of Mods

Mods. You hear the word thrown around all the time among vapers. What are mods? How do they work? Why are there so many different types of them? And finally, how do I know which one is right for me?

We’ve all had these questions when starting out our vaping journeys — and luckily for you we’re here to provide the answers for beginners and experienced vapers alike.

A mod stands for a modified device, the term comes from the early days when vapers were modifying flashlights to get more power out of their devices. You’ll also hear the term PV which stands for personal vaporizer. When these devices are broken down, they are nothing more than a device that houses batteries and sends power to an atomizer.

There are many different styles of mods, but two main power delivery systems mechanical and regulated mods. 

What is a Mechanical Mod?

Mechanical mod KSS Kryptonite
A typical mechanical mod, the KSS by Kryptonite Tank


A mechanical mod is nothing more than a metal tube housing a battery, with two contacts and a button. When the button is pressed a circuit is completed and power is pushed to the atomizer. There are no circuit boards or wires complicating this device.

You simply push the button on the device, which creates contact with the negative terminal on your battery and heats the coils, ultimately vaporizing your favorite e-juice.

Mechanical mods can either be box mods or tube mods. Tube mods are more popular, like the KSS mod to the right. We’ll have a look at boxes down below.




What is a Regulated Mod?

Regulated mods are where things get a bit more interesting. These devices run on a chip system and contain internal circuitry designed to protect the user. They allow you to easily change the power output of your device and fully tailor the vape settings to your preference. For this reason, they tend to be a bit more user friendly.


Eleaf iStick with a range of starter tanks.
Eleaf iStick with a range of starter tanks. Photo credit:


The lower end devices are generally well priced and when paired with a proper tank, like the Aspire Nautilus, provide an extremely satisfying vape experience with minimal fuss. These devices have built in safety features like battery protection, standby modes, and power cutoff. That last one makes sure if the button is held for too long, the device will automatically shut off power to your atomizer, avoiding a fire in your pocket. Never a bad thing, right?

Some of the lower end regulated mods have a power output of about 20 watts, and from there you can work your way up to devices that are capable of 150 watt output and more.



Why a Mechanical Mod?

Why would you choose a mechanical Mod? What are the benefits of running a non-regulated device?

Mechanical mods are the PV (personal vaporizer) of choice for a lot of vapers out there. They’re usually designed with aesthetics in mind and often made from beautiful stainless steel, copper, or brass — ensuring a look for everyone. They’re also pretty darn sleek and feel substantial in your hands. They’re generally less bulky than their regulated counterparts meaning they’re more mobile as well.

The mechanical mod will pair well with cloud chasing. These devices have no regulation or protection built in, just the raw power of the battery directly fueling the atomizer. This means that someone could theoretically fire an atomizer with a lower ohm rating than what some of the lower end regulated devices will fire. This is where things get sketchy and potentially dangerous. We would not recommend a mechanical mod and a rebuildable atomizer to someone with no knowledge of ohms law and battery safety. If not treated carefully, a battery can be vented (when the battery ruptures and expels harmful battery acid) if pushed past its limits.

Here’s what that looks like:

That being said, if used properly a mechanical mod can produce an extremely satisfying vape when done responsibly! So be safe and read a guide like this before you start!

With a mechanical mod the user is much less likely to use a clearo style tank system and move directly into the rebuildable world. The main reason for this is that you can craft the way your vape is produced when rebuilding  and without the ability to adjust voltage —  this is the preferred method of vaping a mechanical mod.


Key Features of a Mechanical Mod

In the previous section it was mentioned that a mechanical mod is nothing more than a tube housing a battery, with two points of contact on that battery. When the contacts complete a circuit, power is drawn from the battery and sent to the atomizer of your choice. This all seems quite simple, doesn’t it? But there’s a little more that goes into it. A few key features in a good mechanical mod are

  1. Conductive metals  –  When purchasing a mechanical mod you are going to see three main choices of material: stainless steel, brass, and copper. Each of these metals have their pros and cons, but it usually comes down to an aesthetic choice. Which metal do you think looks best?
  2. Contacts  –  The contacts of the mod are going to be making direct contact with your battery. These will usually be made out a more conductive metal. The best options for contacts is going to be brass or copper. Both of these metals are extremely conductive and will help lower the voltage drop of the mod. Voltage drop occurs when a non conductive metal or dirt and grime build-up impedes voltage traveling from your battery to your atomizer. Not something you want, so go for the most conducive metal you can afford.
  3. Button style  –  On a mechanical mod there are a generally two types of buttons — locked or recessed. Some prefer a recessed button because they’re more simple and you don’t have to fiddle around with a lock ring or worry about it getting stuck. The drawback, of course, is there is no sure way to lock the mod, so it could potentially fire if not handled with care. A locked button gives you peace of mind in the realm of accidentally firing your mod, but every time you want a vape, you will be locking and unlocking the mod. If possible head to your local shop and ask to view a mod with each of these button styles.



Why a Regulated Mod?

Regulated mods have been exploding in popularity. Also known as APVs (or advanced personal vaporizers), there have been quite a few styles of devices to choose from. From a simple tube mods running 15 watts to box mods pushing 150 watts and more.

IPV V3 and Patriot rebuildable atomizer.

The reason these mods are gaining mass acceptance is clear. They’re packed full of safety features that give you the ability to tailor your vape experience to your liking. With devices like these, you can change how much power is running to your atomizer thanks to variable voltage/wattage settings.

They are interchangeable, too. Screw on a a simple starter tank one day, then throw on a rebuildable atomizer the next. Pretty cool.


The IPV V3 is a great example, one could run this as a starter setup and it would continue to hold its own all through your vaping endeavors for quite some time. These devices come with all the features mentioned above to keep your vaping safe and enjoyable.




Key Features of a Regulated Mod

By now, you should know that regulated mods have a bit more going on than your standard mechanical setup, as they have embedded chips and circuitry to keep you safe. Not all regulated mods are created equal, however.

On one end of the spectrum, we have lower end devices like the itaste MVP or the Eleaf iStick. These mods will come with built in batteries but still have most of the safety features listed below.

Littleman Mod
A high end regulated device, The littlemaN by Project Sub-Ohm

For the upper end of the range, you have higher wattage/voltage output regulated devices are mostly made by two main manufacturers of chips: Evolv and YiHi. The chips coming from Evolv are a bit more cutting edge and have a lot more safety features built in. The chips that YiHi are producing are more based around raw power and running the lowest resistance possible. Either way there are a few key features you should look for.

  1. Built in protection  –  With these devices you have a lot of wiring and you want to make sure you are not going to blow that wiring. Look for devices with built in short protection, reverse battery protection, and resistance cut off. All of these will keep you vaping safe.
  2. Removable batteries  –  With a regulated device you are going to find yourself charging the battery quite a bit, if the battery is built into the device, once it hits its number of recharge cycles the battery will be limping. We think it is best to find a device that allows you to remove and replace your battery.
  3. Locking Ability  –  On a regulated device you also want to look for a device that allows you to lock it. This is usually going to be a combination of button presses that locks and unlocks the mod, this is an important feature that is often over looked. With the ability to lock the device you have peace of mind carrying it in your pocket or putting it away for the evening. No burnt wicks here!



Making the Decision

Hopefully you now have a pretty solid introductory understanding into the world of mods. In the end, the choice of which type comes down to personal preference.

How do you want to vape? Do you want something to take with you and be mobile, or are you looking to blow big clouds in your living room?

What features are you looking for in a mod? Variable voltage is pretty handy, but then again there’s something beautifully simple about an effective rebuildable setup.

Does the process of rebuilding coils appeal to you? If you don’t have a little patience or a shop or friend nearby, then you might not want to go through the effort.

Ask yourself these questions and come up with solid answers. This will help narrow your search. If possible head to a local shop, and talk to one of the guys behind the counter. They would be more than happy to show you a few of each style device. If you go out into the market with no idea what you are looking for more times than not you will come up empty handed and stressed out. Finding the correct mod for you should be a fun and simple process.

No matter what device you’re vaping, congratulations on the switch and welcome to a healthier lifestyle! We hope this guide helps shed some light on the world of what us vapers call “mods”.


What questions did you have when first learning about mods?

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